Brujeria – Matando Güeros

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The Making of Brujeria’s Matando Güeros

During one of our many conversations for this Hall of Fame entry, the great Shane Embury, Napalm Death leader and the man of a thousand other bands—including Brujeria, of course, where he is known as Hongo—says this: “The beauty of Brujo is the chaos. You have to let it go. He comes from different angles than most of us, which I appreciate more and more. A lot of people have a certain structure, a certain itinerary, but Brujo doesn’t have any of that. He is chaos, and when you let go and tag along, it’s quite beautiful.”

Shane is obviously referring to his bandmate, Brujeria frontman, lyricist, leader and founding member John Lepe, a.k.a. Juan Brujo, but as Brujeria have proven to be very much an expression of Brujo’s artistic m.o. (he is the only member to never have been in another band), the same could be said about the band itself. More specifically, about their legendary debut Matando Güeros. It could be argued that its follow-up, Raza Odiada, is a “better” album, with improved songs, superior-sounding and more structured, but there is a wild streak to Matando Güeros that is absolutely unrivaled by any album, Brujeria’s or otherwise.

Lyrically, it conjures up some of the most gruesome and extreme images ever, no matter in what language, while musically, it does sound like it was recorded by a bunch of Satanic drug dealers in a remote barn somewhere near the border. Let’s not forget the element of danger this album brought with it in 1993. With no internet, Brujeria were one of the last bands to ever feel truly dangerous. Anonymous from the beginning—and without live shows—they really had us fooled there for a while, getting a whole generation to believe this was the work of real criminals, the people capable of committing the sort of violence the legendary—and immediately censored—original album cover suggested.

However, there is more to Matando Güeros than its sensational side. A product of a burgeoning scene at the time that lacked almost any kind of representation, Brujeria became the answer that thousands of grind-obsessed Latino kids were looking for in the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Latino-led Terrorizer were early grind kings, but even they never took the step of singing in Spanish or addressing the most serious issues kids and their families were facing. Though often tongue-in-cheek—and sometimes just outright stupid—buried underneath that exterior exists real social critique. There is a violent reaction against racism, inequalities and bigotry; an unflinching look at the real issues, taking direct inspiration from some of the hardest stories in the news at the time. Is Brujeria chaos? For sure, but so is the reality on which its allegorical world is built.

Even if the recording didn’t take place in a barn populated with Satanic drug dealers, it was enough of a wild and messy party for no one to be completely sure of who did what to this day, so Matando Güeros’ complete lineup might be lost forever. We settled on the consensual six who wrote and recorded the bulk of it, namely John “Juan Brujo” Lepe, Dino “Asesino” Cazares, Pat “Fantasma” Hoed, Shane “Hongo” Embury, Billy “Güero Sin Fe” Gould and Raymond “Greñudo” Herrera. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, banditos.

Need more classic Brujeria? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with the members who performed on Matando Güeros, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.